Orange Coast Radiation Oncology Center
Coping With The Holidays As A Cancer Patient

The holidays are upon us and the world is smiling. It’s a time of twinkling lights, warm hearts, and joyous song. A time when co-workers and families gather for cocktail parties, lighted parades, and festive dinners. But if you have cancer, celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or New Year’s Eve may make it a little more difficult to get into the holiday spirit. At Orange County CyberKnife & Radiation Oncology Center, we not only treat your cancer, we want to help you through the cancer treatment process with your spirits high. Here are a few tips to help you cope with the holidays.

Enjoy the Feasting

Depending on the type of cancer treatment you are receiving, your ability to eat and enjoy food may be affected. You may find that you have changes in the way things taste, you are not hungry or you can’t eat as much as you normally would. You may also experience constipation and nausea which can affect your ability to enjoy the next holiday feast. Even if you can’t eat as much as you usually would, you can still participate. Check with you board certified radiation oncologists about how you are feeling when you eat and any upcoming holiday gatherings. He or she may be able to prescribe you additional anti-nausea medicines to take throughout the holidays. Also try having small snacks available so that you can get some nutrition whenever you do feel like eating.

Pass On The Cooking

If you’re in the middle of cancer treatment, cooking that favorite cranberry sauce or banana pudding may not be the best option. During this time even your smell is affected and cooking and smelling the food may make you nauseous and not hungry. See if you could get others to cook the favorites that you normally bring to family dinner.

Drink With Care

While the holidays often bring a toast with a cocktail of many sorts, be cautious about drinking alcohol during your cancer treatment. While a glass of wine or other types of alcohol may help you relax and not negatively affect you, it can also sometimes interfere with how cancer drugs work or it may make you feel very sick. Check with your Orange County CyberKnife radiology oncologist to see how alcohol may affect you before you imbibe.

Pace Yourself

Exhaustion can loom big during and after your cancer treatment and with the family in town or traveling to family, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of having everyone together. Don’t overdo it. And don’t feel guilty telling your guests or your family that you need to rest. Try a rest mid-morning and in the afternoon to help you get through holiday lunches and dinners. Or, pace yourself throughout the days by alternating activities and rest if you find yourself tiring easily.

Talk Out Your Feelings

The holidays, especially the New Year, are often at time that we reflect on our past year(s) and set goals for our future. This can be an emotional time for people who don’t have cancer. As a cancer patient, you may have mixed emotions during this time of year, reflecting on many happy memories with family and friends, and at the same time worrying about your health and your future. The bottom line is that there is no “right” way to feel. Everyone reacts and copes in their own way – whether they want to ignore their cancer during the holidays or find it a time to celebrate putting the cancer behind them. Talking about how you are feeling with close friends and family members may be the best solution to controlling your emotions during this time.

Final Words From Your Orange County CyberKnife Doctor

If you are receiving cancer care at Orange County CyberKnife & Radiation Oncology Center, we recommend you discuss your holiday plans with your radiation oncologist, especially if they involve travel. We can help suggest other tips that might be helpful for you. There will always be a doctor and nurse on call at our office, but if you’re travelling out of town, you will want to find out who you should contact if you have any issues and how you can contact them. If you are expecting results over the holidays, make sure you find out when you will receive them in case there are any delays due to the holidays. Give us a call at (714) 962-7100 and let us help you cope with this holiday season with care and compassion.